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Paul Brown is 61, and there has been no banking of the fires that have burned within him since his first coaching job at Severn (Md.) Prep in 1930 and that have produced 299 wins and 15 ties in 400 high-school, college and pro games.
"I ask nothing of my players that I wouldn't ask of my three sons," he says. He demands that they don't drink and then he gives up his dry martinis (and his golf and gin rummy) from the beginning of each season to the end. "Paul Brown," says Bob Johnson, "is a man of the true American spirit. He believes that if you do your job you'll be paid accordingly. There is no touch of communism in his outlook. He looks you in the eye, tells you what to do and that's it. Handle your responsibilities like a man and he's easy to get along with. If you are straightforward and hardworking you'll be happy here. He is without prejudice. You also know you can't lose because of his incompetence. He is thorough and scientific. We know we lost 11 games last year because it was our fault, not his."
In Brown's office in the Carew Tower in downtown Cincinnati there is no hint of past glories, nothing to tell a visitor that the man ever existed before 1967. In one corner is a four-foot trophy awarded to the Bengals for being the best expansion team in 1968. "But," protests Mike Brown, the second oldest son and the assistant general manager, "we were the only expansion club last year." A citation naming Paul Brown as Cincinnati's Citizen for the Day—Aug. 3, 1968—hangs on the wall. "It's there," says Mike, "because somebody sneaked into the office and tacked it up when no one was around."
"I have a lot of stuff tucked away in boxes," says Paul Brown, "and I guess I could have a great big trophy room somewhere. But football is more than the accomplishments of one man, of one player. It's a team game. What an individual does as an individual is not important. It's what he does for the team. The only thing that counts in football is what's on the scoreboard. And everyone has to feel that way—the coaches, the players. It's the only way you can win the big brass ring."
And Brown has made believers of his kids. "If I have poise on the field, it's because I know Brown is on the bench," says Cook. "He's my security. If something goes wrong, he grabs you as soon as you come off the field. It's not because he's angry with you but because he wants to know what happened, an analysis of the breakdown. He's a football scientist."
A year ago, Brown stunned everyone by drafting Safety Jess Phillips out of a Michigan prison where he was serving time for passing bad checks. "He made a mistake," says Brown, closing the book on that part of Phillips' life. "I, perhaps better than anyone, should know that a man isn't always what his reputation proclaims him to be," Phillips says. "I played for a few coaches, excellent ones like Duffy Daugherty, but there is a difference between Paul Brown and anyone else. He wants perfection but he has great patience. He has begun to rally this team. Now we are looking to the stars."
Paul Brown isn't quite ready to look that far. "There are some things you can't hurry in life," he says. "Building a football team is one of them. I have mentally prepared myself for whatever anguish I have to go through. I won't like losing but I'll be ready for it. But always, deep inside of me, I feel we'll do better than I care to admit. I have my own little world again. I came back into football because I enjoy the life. I don't want anything or anybody to louse it up."